Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Obesity - the last discrimination
The journal Cancer has published a review that found obese, white women are less likely than other women to undergo regular screenings for breast and cervical cancer. Obese women were 10-40% less likely to undergo these screening tests when compared to other women.
We can only speculate why this is so. One theory is that heavier women have emotional barriers such as embarrassment and fear of being weighed. There might also be fat bias from physicians. It is difficult to perform good pap tests on larger women and some Doctors, like others in society, may see obesity as a sign of someone who just doesn't care for their own health.
Obesity and lower economic status also go hand in hand. Perhaps these women are uninsured and have minimal access to screening programs.
Lets be honest, there is definite "fat" discrimination in our society. Despite the fact that obesity is an ever growing problem, it is still seen as a moral or laziness issue. Fat people can be discriminated against by restaurants (less desirable seating) , jobs (you'll never prove it), merchants (that disdainful look from the clerk) and even health workers (gowns that don't fit, scales that don't weigh enough, chairs that are too tiny, tables that are too narrow, screening tests that don't get done).
Obesity may be the last permissible discrimination in our society.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 7:30 AM